Art gallery goes down the pan
02 July 2008
|HOMELESS: Shiri Shalmy has had to move out of gallery:space|
AN ART gallery created in an old toilet block in Finsbury Park has been left homeless after Haringey Council pulled the plug on the lease, its boss claims.
Fine arts graduate Shiri Shalmy, who runs gallery:space, has been forced to move the popular independent art centre out of its park home in McKenzie Pavilion.
She claims the council refused to renew her lease which expired on Sunday.
She said: “How do you justify shutting it down if you haven’t got an alternative? That’s it for independent art in Finsbury Park.”
But the council stressed “there is no leasing arrangement for the building”.
The gallery had expected its rent-free tenancy would be renewed until the end of the year and had artists booked for exhibitions until then.
But the council changed plans with little notice after taking almost three months to organise a meeting, Ms Shalmy claims.
The space will now be used by the council and the Friends of Finsbury Park as an information centre – with the council saying the gallery is welcome to apply to hold further exhibitions there.
A spokesman for Haringey Council said: “It was always understood that Ms Shalmy could use the exhibition space while also delivering the Friends’ of Finsbury Park Lottery-funded Heritage Trail project, which ran until March this year.
“We have supported gallery:space by allowing Ms Shalmy to use the pavilion free of charge during this period.”
The council confirmed a condition of the grant awarded to restore the building was that it should also be used as an “information resource” including community art projects from a borough-wide programme.
A farewell picnic in the park on Sunday saw a swell of community support for the gallery which has seen 10,000 visitors throughout the year.
“We’ve had 400 signatures on a petition from local people, we’ve had letters from artists,” said Ms Shalmy. Open since April 2007, gallery:space is an independent not for profit arts organisation which has been run mainly with Ms Shalmy’s own cash and the help of volunteers.